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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 12:13 GMT
Japan film scraps Hitler promotion
Hitler's painting of Vienna's Karlskirche
The painting was to be exhibited in a Tokyo theatre
A Japanese film distributor has cancelled plans to display a painting by Germany's Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler.

The move followed a protest by a Jewish human rights group that the display risked trivialising the holocaust.

The work, showing a church in Vienna, was to be displayed at a Tokyo theatre on Saturday to promote a film loosely based on Hitler's life - the Max.

When the film was released in Europe last year, it prompted the charge that it was an attempt to humanise Hitler.

A spokesman for Toshiba Entertainment, the film's Japanese distributor, reportedly said that too much interest in the painting had led to the exhibition's cancellation.

"The reaction was overwhelming. We received too many inquiries," the spokesman was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"People asked us questions like how long the painting would be shown or how much it could cost," he said.

The company said it was worried about appropriate security for the display.

It was not clear whether cultural sensitivities also played a part in the decision to drop the exhibition.

The US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center's associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper criticised the planned display Tuesday, saying in a statement on its website it "could have the effect of trivialising the evil of the man and the horrors he unleashed on humankind".


The film shows Hitler's evolution from struggling artist to extreme nationalist, and is centred around his relationship with a Jewish art dealer - the Max of the film's title.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler painted thousands of pictures

Some critics have said that the film suggests Hitler would never have risen to power if he had been successful as an artist.

Toshiba had earlier acknowledged that displaying the painting of Vienna's Karlskirche, also known as Saint Karl's Church, by the dictator may fuel allegations that Japan was indifferent to racial sensitivities but had defended its use.

"The showing of the watercolour is meant to back up the message of the film - to show that Hitler had a human side to him and that is all the more reason why he is terrifying because a despot could be born again," said spokesman Daisuke Kobayashi.

Hitler drew and painted thousands of pictures in the early years of the 20th century, though his application to join the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts was rejected.

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